Interview: Greg Henry Waters
Paul Collins interviewing Greg Henry Waters, New York Jazz Musician.
Tell us about your background. Who you are? Where you are from? Didn’t you venture north to Canada at one time?
Well, my music started at 4th grade level in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Lived there until the 8th grade and moved to Brookfield, Wisconsin. Studied privately, clarinet, started saxophone in seventh grade and flute in 11th grade. I was mostly playing classical music, but got interested in jazz. But really didn’t get interested in jazz until I got to college.
I moved to Texas to study at one of the most famous music schools in the States. The University of North Texas which gave me such a grand education in music. Both in classical music and big band jazz. After NT I moved back to Milwaukee and taught for one semester in a junior high school. Then I started graduate school as a composition and theory major. After I graduated they drafted me for the Vietnam War, but I chose to move to Canada. The Quaker’s help me with this process and after seven years in Canada I was cleared to return to the US.
What themes does your music explore and what do you hope the listener will take away from the experience? Is there a particular feeling or experience that you hope to evoke in the listener?
My music is about harmonic development for I created my own harmony that I used to write my music. When I was in Chicago and Toronto I composed both classical and jazz music. But when I moved to NYC I only did jazz for the competition was so great and the prejudices were so great in NYC that to do both would destroy one. Anyway, I created my 13 piece jazz band which I thought was an original group with all my music which I composed. It was quite a big effort for me. I was never able to earn money from my band but I could earn some playing club dates and shows working for contractors and many different bands. Read more at my website. Because I could not get a sponsor I stopped that project.
What I did not understand was there is a difference from performers and creative people. This conflict caused me many problems in relating to the business of music and my presence in it and understanding my peers. My music is stored in the University of NT Music Library under special collections additions with 25 other grand artists. Also the Performance Arts library in Lincoln Center has most of my classical music which I composed mostly in Toronto. In order to understand this problem I studied Raja Yoga since my introduction to it in Chicago. A friend from College told me I had a personally of a self actualization development personality which I later discovered my inner soul. Later I met Yogi Alfred Narayana in Toronto and he and his wife Bianca helped me live in the two worlds: pure land and the profane world. You must read Narayana’s books to understand this concept.
My music is based on the inner world of a developed human being who believes in the existence of the soul. The people who listen to it will develop their inner self. It is more hopefully about the spiritual life than the popular notion of pop music and over played classical music.
What prompted you to be a musician and did you have a specific inspiration in mind? Were you influenced by a certain person, artist, or genre?
Greg Henry Waters–Music was something I loved when I heard it, especially the big band music of the 40’s, Stan Kenton and Benny Goodman. Plus Mozart and Wagner and other classical composers. Plus I loved the solo playing of many jazz performers from the jazz era both cool and modern jazz. I had so many interests in music and such a variety of music but what I do know I did not like pop music at all. I learned to love the concerto form because concertos are a live written solo performance or just another improvisation that is written out. The violin was the champion of concertos going back to the 1500.
If you could compare your music to any other existing works, which ones would it be and why?
Well, I tried all kinds of styles in my music the most important thing is the structure of it and how it forms around the instrument or instruments. My main purpose was not to be a copy cat performer or composer so I always went after my own style which created a lot of problems for me in the music business. For musicians are only able to perform music they are use to hearing not something new. I even quite performing as not to be influenced by the profane in music. Even today I have no real interest in the world of music except maybe listening to it. Well I have studied all the great jazz soloists ( and my performing and playing has been considered just as great as those I studied) and classical composers including their form and harmonic structure. I always come up with Mozart and Bach as my favorite and Benny Goodman’s Concert at Carnegie Hall who created the first big concert program.
Tell us about your latest music and what inspired you.
My latest music is on my internet site. You can also find links to the libraries with my music. Up until the computer age I composed my music on paper, now I compose it on the computer most of the time and all the scores are there at my web site. I got interested in the flute a few years back and lately composed many pieces for flute in chamber music styles. Each instrument has it own music and history. I heard four bassoon quartets on the radio today which I thought was great, because where can one hear the bassoon. On TV one never hears instruments anymore it is all electronic fake music not connected to the breath and energy of a real person.
Thoughts or questions? And do you have a means by which they can “sign up” to be notified when you make more music.
They can download my music from the internet: www.greghenrywaters.com/mp3/ My past music and present music are not any different really, for I use the same harmony in all of my music.
I thank you for your time. All the best!